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The promising future of lung cancer research

October 27, 2016

Detecting and treating lung cancer early not only offers the best chance of cure, but decreases the symptoms and burden associated with advanced disease. While there is good scientific evidence to show early detection using low-dose CT scans can decrease lung cancer death rate by as much as 20 percent, additional research remains to be done.

More than 50 percent of the lung cancer patients we see now have never smoked, and those who have smoked before have stopped for years. Currently, we are conducting research to determine the impact of outdoor and household air pollution exposures as well as genetic susceptibility on lung cancer risk.

This will allow us to assess lung cancer risk more accurately to determine who would benefit most from CT screening. CT scans are very sophisticated. It can pick up tiny spots that we call nodules. The majority of these nodules are not cancerous. We apply computer vision technology to tell the difference between benign and cancerous nodules, especially cancerous nodules that can grow or spread rapidly.

Another area of research is to find compounds to prevent pre-cancerous lesions from progressing to invasive cancer, or even making them disappear. Research in early detection, treatment and prevention is a very promising strategy to bring about a significant improvement in lung cancer outcome in the next decade or so. Partnership support from the public will expedite this change.